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A 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film production

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"Cupid, He Rules Us All"

  • Dec 19, 2008
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In 1968 Franco Zeffirelli wowed critics and audiences alike with his filmed version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The film would be one of the most sumptuous and celebrated cinematic adaptations of any of Shakespeare's plays and featured superb acting, production values, and music. Of the many films based on the tragic romance, most film critics and Shakespeare scholars agree that while Zeffirelli's film is an abridgment of Romeo and Juliet, it manages to capture the essence of the play more than most other treatments. Today, it is considered one of the most beautifully made films ever and a classic in the truest sense.
Great young cast.
He cast two unknown actors in the title roles. Romeo was played by Leonard Whiting, who captured the angst and anti-war sentiment of his generation while juxtaposing it with his all-consuming passion for Juliet. And Olivia Hussey plays Juliet to perfection by endowing her with innocence, naivety, intelligence and loving conviction. The rest of the cast is also superb especially John McEnery who lends a manic energy to Mercutio, Milo O'Shea who plays the difficult role of Friar Laurence, Pat Heywood who is spectacular as the Nurse, Michael York as the violent Tybalt and Bruce Robinson plays the loyal Benvolio.
DVD cover
The film features a phenomenal score composed by Nino Rota. The production design is fantastic and the costumes are all lavishly created and provide the film with a sense of authenticity (even if not entirely accurate in a historical sense). The fight choreography, though simple when compared to today's standards, is exciting and well rehearsed. But it's the performances of the cast and the film's director who propel the film into the stratosphere as one of the best romantic stories ever produced.

"Then let lips do what hands do..."
"Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes...
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows...
Do with their death bury their parents' strife."
Juliet and her Romeo.

For those few who aren't familiar with the story (Go read it!), it tells the tale of Romeo, son of Montague and Juliet, daughter of Capulet. The two youths fall in love only to discover that they are sworn enemies. They hide their love from their feuding parents and are hastily wed in secret. But Juliet is to marry another, at the command of her father and Romeo is banished from Verona for killing Juliet's cousin Tybalt. Just as it seems that there's no hope that the two lovers will be united, a Franciscan Friar offers Juliet a draught, which when taken gives off the appearance of death and once her family believed her to be dead she would be free to rejoin Romeo. But Romeo hears rumor of his beloved's demise and sets off for the mausoleum where her body rests. There, too distraught to live, he drinks a vial of poison and dies but not before giving Juliet one last kiss. When the draught wears off Juliet finds her true love's body. She is so determined to be with him that she plunges his dagger into her own heart, thus either ending her anguish or reuniting them in the afterlife. When the Capulets and the Montagues discover the tragedy that has befallen them, they put aside their ancient feud and are united in grief.
The lovers lie sleeping.

"A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The Sun, for sorrow, will not show his head,
For never was a story of more woe...
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
Death for love.
Though Zeffirelli takes some liberties with William Shakespeare's text (numerous lines of dialogue are omitted or altered, the confrontation between Romeo and Paris is removed, and the scene where Romeo goes to the apothecary to buy the poison is for some reason left out), he preserves the spirit of the tragic romance. This ultimately doesn't hurt the over all quality of the film and in some ways improves upon the original, since it allows for a greater feeling of immediacy. It's also interesting to note that enhancing the film's dramatic love scenes is the chemistry between Whiting and Hussey, who were actually lovers during the film's making, so what you're seeing on screen is an authentic romance taking place.
The film is truly a classic and an example of acting at its finest.

Whispers of love. With these hands... Juliet dreams of Romeo. A forbidden love... Calm before the storm... A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life.

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February 18, 2010
I've never seen the trailer for the film before. I love the fact that that there isn't a single line of dialogue and it's promoting a film based on a Shakespearean play! I've always liked the soundtrack from this film. Johnny Mathis recorded a song that was a verson of the love theme. Nice review, and love the photos too. Did you see Zefferelli's BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON?
February 18, 2010
Actually, that's not the real trailer, but a fan-made one that I found on YouTube. The real trailer is quite long and unintentionally funny. Very '60s. I've seen "Brother Sun and Sister Moon" and I loved it and Zeffirelli's unfortunate film version of "Hamlet" with Mel Gibson.
February 18, 2010
I loved TAMING OF THE SHREW. Shakespeare as slapstick comedy.
February 18, 2010
I never cared for that one as much, the play I mean. It just felt too sexist. Suppose seeing it performed with men dressed as women, as they used to do when Shakespeare was still alive, might have given it a more ironic tone, but it hasn't been given a treatment like that in a long time.
February 18, 2010
My daughter spent hours telling me about what had been omitted and how it changed the whole meaning of the play and how Kate really came out on top in the end. Yeah, sure. She just learned how to play the game, that's all.
February 18, 2010
Hmmm. What does your daughter do for work again?
February 18, 2010
She has her masters in Brit Lit but she managed apartment complexes and sold real estate for a while. Mostly she helps Rob out at his office. She was going to teach, but found out she didn't like it very much.
February 20, 2010
Does she read your reviews?
February 20, 2010
Of course not.
February 21, 2010
Bummer. I was about to suggest you invite her to join, but it doesn't sound like she has a lot of free time.
February 21, 2010
Not much. She just started back to TKD several months ago so that eats up the free time she does have.
February 21, 2010
Too bad. We could use an expert on English literature on the site. Especially with my upcoming reviews all focusing on English classics. Oops, I've said too much (clears throat and makes a noise that sounds like Grahame).
February 21, 2010
Yeah. I've hinted to her, but to no avail.
More Romeo & Juliet (1968 movie) reviews
review by . July 15, 2010
Great Book But I Didnt Like The Ending!!
I liked this book alot but i didnt like the way they made the main two people die at the end on the book..I was soo happy that they started falling in love with eachother and they wanted to marry but there parents were soo mean...Only if the parents werent mean they wouldnt have had soo many people funerals in the families.. it was soo stupid when the Capulets and the Montogues would  start fighting for no reason..Bu ti guess that happens when someone is ur enemy..But i loved the …
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About this movie



Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 1968
MPAA Rating: PG
Studio: Paramount Pictures
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""Cupid, He Rules Us All""
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